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  • Writer's picturealannahwag

Navigating the Fourth Trimester: A Realistic Guide to Life with a Newborn

Welcome to the rollercoaster ride of parenthood! As an Infant Feeding Coach and a mum-of-two myself, I've seen it all – the sleepless nights, the endless nappy changes, and the sheer joy of welcoming a tiny human into your life.

But I don't think enough is said about the fourth trimester and what it actually is – that magical yet chaotic period right after birth when reality hits and you're left with this baby who only wants you! Although this is totally overwhelming and can make you feel like there is something possibly wrong with your baby, it is totally normal and they are totally normal.

Just think about it...they have been inside you where its warm, dark, cosy, they're rocked to sleep with your constant movement and then suddenly they enter into this world where its bright, cold, loud and they have loads of scary faces cooing over them! They are just as overwhelmed as you are. So, is it any wonder they feel most content when on your chest cuddling or feeding!?

The first six weeks with a newborn are...crazy, lovely, emotional, overwhelming, exhausting....all of the things! But if you know what to expect from a newborn it can prepare you just that little bit more! This is why we need to talk more about the fourth trimester.

First things first, let's address the elephant in the room – sleep deprivation. Remember those leisurely lie-ins you used to enjoy on weekends? Yeah, it is possibly time to say goodbye to those for just a little while. Your newborn has a knack for turning night into day and vice versa. But fear not, you'll soon become a master of power-naps and caffeine consumption that would put a barista to shame. I mean, I only drink English Breakfast tea so coffee never helped me like I needed it to but you get the idea. It is totally normal for your baby to wake during the night, they are only tiny and need that constant attention and care and WILL feed during the night. Some parents really struggle with that broken sleep for the first few weeks/months so do whatever it takes to to take care of yourselves and each other.

If you have to spend the first few days or even weeks just sat having skin to skin and feeding your baby, let it be. Those quiet moments spent cuddling into your little one as they drift off to sleep in your arms – it's just pure magic. You will need that rest mentally and physically. So, if you can use those snippets of quiet time to sleep you will thank yourself at 3am! Or if your baby wants to contact nap in those early stages (yes it can feel exhausting) get yourself a wrap-sling and get your baby cosied up on you. This leaves you hands-free and can give you the chance to just get a couple of easy, stress-free jobs done.

OK, now, let's address the next thing that parents often worry about – breastfeeding. It's a bit like signing up for a crash course in lactation biology. But you are not alone! Because I'm here to help you navigate the maze of latching and positioning and cluster feeding marathons. It can feel like there is so much to learn around feeding but just keep it simple.

Make a plan of action (I know not all plans go exactly how you want it, but its good to put things into place before you have your baby).

Remember, it's okay to ask for help. Whether it's reaching out to a feeding specialist or heading to your local support group, there's no shame in admitting that parenting is hard work and that you want to feel supported and empowered when it comes to feeding your baby.

If I can give you just a few bits of advice for the fourth trimester it would be this:

  • Be kind to yourself. Giving birth is a huge deal and you need to give yourself time to REST and RECOVER.

  • Sink into it. Just try your best to accept this is the way of life for a little bit and that that is ok. Enjoy those quiet moments, if you can. It is helping you and your baby bond.

  • Connect to nature. Living in Cornwall I am lucky to have the beach at my doorstep but even if you just sit in the garden with the sun on your face, it'll help your mental health (and yes I know, am I aware of the weather in the UK right now, its done nothing but rain but even visiting the beach in the rain is therapeutic)!

  • Reach out for support. Do not see it as a sign of weakness. It is the total opposite and you shouldn't go through this alone.

So, to all the new parents out there, hang in there. The fourth trimester may feel like a whirlwind of emotions but it's also a time of immense growth and bonding. And remember, you are doing a bloody wonderful job! All your little baby needs is you!

Alannah x


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